1

I‘m currently playing the 3rd Movement of Moonlight Sonata and noticed myself always hitting the last note in Measure 22 (f##) even though it is a tied note. I never thought about not playing it, because every performer I have seen/heared playing this piece always played this note as well. Thus my ears were used to hear it and so I automatically played it without thinking. Now the question is, how am I supposed to know when to play the tie, and when to actually play the note, even though the notation tells me not to do it.

There is actually an indication in Measure 23 which tells me to use the thumb to play the g#, therefore one could conclude, that the note has to be played even though it is tied. Any ideas on this? Or am I missing something here?

It’s the slow melody passage at 0:27

Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement Measure 21—25

  • 1
    As it stands, I find this a confusing question. Bar 22 or 23? 23, the last G# is not tied to anything. – Tim Apr 13 at 11:34
  • It’s both bars. Same pattern at the end. Richard got it right. – brimosimo Apr 13 at 12:21
  • This question seems to be very constructed in my eyes. You play the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata, you know the ties and slurs and what is a double sharp ...I hardly can believe that this is a serious problem recognizing the difference between a tie and a slur, as in the previous bars you have encountered many ties and slurs, even in bar 22. And the following motif is totally clear. If you ask this question representative for a beginner ... I think this was not the best example. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 13 at 14:18
  • 1
    What do you mean with serious problem? As I stated, it came to my mind when thinking about the score. I knew that I was probably playing it right I just didn’t know the explanation for it. That’s why I asked. And I’m glad that Richard read the question, understood it, and then answered it without blaming me for asking. And just to let you know, yes I am clearly not a beginner, I play since more than 16 years now but that does not mean I’m perfectly good at reading sheet music. It’s actually the opposite because I never had a teacher who taught me reading it. But hey that’s another story. – brimosimo Apr 13 at 14:54
  • Sorry, I didn’t mean to blame you. There is actually an indication in Measure 23 which tells me to use the thumb to play the g#, therefore one could conclude, that the note has to be played even though it is tied. This exactly shows us that the g# isn’t tied. You played it correctly. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 13 at 15:18
3

It seems that you may be conflating phrasing slurs with ties.

Ties and slurs are notated similarly, but the context determines what is intended. Ties in this style will only ever connect two of the exact same notes, and there will not be any intervening pitches; instead, the tie's purpose is to lengthen the duration of a pitch you are currently playing. This happens in the first half of m. 22; on beat 2, the F-doublesharp is tied into beat 3!

A phrasing slur, however, will often connect multiple different pitches, including perhaps multiple instances of a single pitch. That is what is happening at the end of m. 22. During beats 3 and 4, those two F-doublesharps are not tied together, but are rather part of a larger phrasing slur. As such, you will articulate both of those F-doublesharps.

And the same applies to the G♯s at the end of m. 23 and the A♯s at the end of m. 24.

In the instance that you would want to hold the F-doublesharp for the duration of this slur, you would need to use separate voices, like so:

enter image description here

(This looks a little ugly, but mainly that's because it's a manufactured example. Beethoven would have written this differently had he wanted the F-doublesharp held.)

| improve this answer | |
  • So the thing is that there is an intervening note between the F-Doublesharps that’s why it’s a slur and not a tie. I got that. But out of curiosity, how would the notation be for the other case? Holding the F-DoubleSharp until the end? – brimosimo Apr 13 at 12:26
  • @brimosimo In that case you would use separate voices, with the voices clarified by different stem direction. See my edit. – Richard Apr 13 at 13:31
  • This looks kind of ugly indeed however now I know the difference. Thank You very much for the clear explanation! – brimosimo Apr 13 at 14:16
0

I never thought about not playing it, because every performer I have seen/heared playing this piece always played this note as well.

As you say in your comment to Tim both figures are identical: and also in the next bar 24 we have the same motif.

It’s both bars. Same pattern at the end.

Now the question is, how am I supposed to know when to play the tie, and when to actually play the note, even though the notation tells me not to do it.

The notation doesn't tell you not to play the last notes. There are no ties in the second motif.

As you can see in the previous motif (2 tied notes F##) the ties are always between two consecutive notes and not from the beginning to the end of a phrase or a motif. The latter bows are slurs to mark the phrasing: This means play the notes under one bow, with no stop, in one breath, but at the end of the slur there is a breathing. The last note under the slur is played softly and shortened. Look at the performer: the pianist lifts the hands at the end of the slur.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    that’s actually the way I play it. Now that I know why, it makes perfect sense. But it wasn’t as clear to me before asking (obviously otherwise I wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of posting a question here in the first place) but thank you for elaborating on it more. – brimosimo Apr 13 at 15:08
  • I understand. Excuse me for being so skeptically ;) . (It is here also allowed to ask questions where you know the answer - representative for others) – Albrecht Hügli Apr 13 at 15:12
  • 1
    That wasn’t the case but good to know – brimosimo Apr 13 at 15:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.